Lilia Boyadjieva

Around the Fugue

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Perhaps you've always hoped a keyboardist would mount a program like this, exploring the meaning of the fugue (or, more specifically, the prelude and fugue) as it has recurred throughout musical history since Bach's time. Even if Bulgarian-French pianist Lilia Boyadjieva doesn't address the issues exactly rigorously, it's still intriguing to hear the fugues roll by, shaped in their conceptions by their Romantic and then their modern surroundings. Boyadjieva is at her best when she's displaying sheer power; she seems to specialize in the post-Romantics and made her reputation with, of all people, Samuel Barber. In the Liszt Fantasy and Fugue on B-A-C-H she is riveting, and even more compelling is a little-heard work that demands power in the extreme: Rodion Shchedrin's Prelude and Fugue in G minor for the left hand. She also overwhelms the fugue in Bach's Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue, BWV 903, dispelling what should have been a clean establishment of Bach as the reference point for all these composers. The subtleties of Franck's Prelude, Choral, and Fugue also elude Boyadjieva; the central chorale doesn't have its proper feeling of repose. Her Mendelssohn and Shostakovich prelude-and-fugue pairs are edgy, agile, and a little bitter -- certainly defensible in Shostakovich's case, and a reading that makes one want to hear more of his works from this artist. One can easily imagine other ways of executing Boyadjieva's idea here, but this is still an enjoyable recording that would make a fine gift for anyone (and everybody knows one) who "likes fugues."

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